Whatever Makes Her Happy, On A Saturday Night

A good Saturday night – chicken claypot rice, coffee pork ribs and sambal petai for dinner in Geylang, then lazy couch potato-ing at Alec’s place watching Children Of Men (lots of cats, a random flock of sheep, Clive Owen being a motherfucking rockstar and the best movie-making I’ve seen since Downfall) and Humbug (one of my favourite X-Files episodes ever) over cider, with Alec bearing my periodic exclamations of “Cats!”, “Sheep!” and “Rockstar!” with admirable indulgence.

Oh and just for the hell of it, here are some photos taken over the weekend with my brand new Fujifilm Finepix F31fd, which I’m very happy with. They’re not spectacular from an artistic point of view, they’re just my attempts to test out the universally raved about low-light capability of this camera. Basically, the following pictures were taken totally hand-held without much forethought or technical knowhow whatsoever.

Clarke Quay, Singapore
Clarke Quay restaurants
Clarke Quay reflections, Singapore
Clarke Quay reflections
Durian stall in Geylang, Singapore
A durian stall in Geylang
Red lanterns in Geylang, Singapore
Cornershop temple in Geylang
Clarke Quay canopy, Singapore
Study of the Clarke Quay canopies (my favourite shot)

As much as I loved my previous camera (Canon Ixus 430), there’s really no way it could have managed these – the darker shots, in particular, would have come out totally unusable or at least would have required a lot of post-processing. I’m very new to a lot of what this camera has to offer, such as aperture and shutter priority modes, but if it gives the above results to a clueless user, I can’t wait to see what it can do once I get to know it a bit better.


  1. I missed Children of Men at the cinema and downloaded it there recently. It’s certainly one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last year. All those extended shots (although I’m told they cheated using computers) are bleedin’ gorgeous.

    How much did the camera set you back? I’ve been holding off getting one for a few years now but I’m probably going to crumble when I’m over in September for the wedding. I’d be nice to have one that handled videos passably as well.

    Dad wants to get a lappy as well because his old ones on the way out. Alec tells me consumer electronics are pretty cheap over there.

  2. Children of Men is fantastic, as is Downfall. You should try to get the DVD and watch the extra clips if you can. The interviews are very interesting.

    I’m also commenting with an ulterior motive. :) My boyfriend may be coming to Singapore without a job offer in hand (long story). We’re a little antsy about that. I was wondering if you (or Alec!) had any advice to give about job-hunting in Singapore — the prospects in general, the visa issues… any advice would be much appreciated, since we’re completely lost as to where to start right now! (He’s most interested in education-related jobs, but is even thinking about consulting — basically something that pays well/decent and yields transferable skills!)

  3. courtesy of this post, i now have this camera winging it’s way to me on Amazon, as I have been trying to get a new camera that takes really great pictures in low light – my current one just isn’t up to the job. so thank you very much for posting this!

  4. those night shots are pretty impressive from a technical standpoint. i couldn’t take those shots from my camera without getting wiggles of light.

    on a side note, ever noticed how much like a certain anatomy those canopy structures in CQ look like? unfortunately, you can’t tell from the photo cos you didn’t shoot the base.

  5. James: The camera was S$499 and included loads of freebies (2 1GB memory cards, card reader, lens cleaning kit, screen protector, spare battery and mini tripod). It would be good if you look into what you/your dad want to buy before coming over, because the sheer amount of options here might be overwhelming if you don’t already have a clear idea of what you’re after.

    Xue: Yes, I hardly buy any DVDs at all, but I’m DEFINITELY buying the Children Of Men DVD. I already want to watch it again, and that almost never happens to me with movies.

    Sharmila: Wow, I didn’t quite expect that! It doesn’t have everything I want, but if size and low-light performance are both important things for you, I think there’s no better camera you could have. It doesn’t have image stabilisation, but that’s only enough to compensate for shaky hands, and isn’t much good if the subject of your photo is moving too (e.g. a gig photo). With this camera’s amazing high-ISO performance, you can ramp up the ISO (you should also keep a steady hand of course), preserve the motion of your subject, and still get good image quality.

    If you google the model number, you’ll easily find photography forums where rabid fans of this camera (most of whom know far more about photography than me) discuss the best settings to use and post example pictures.

    Michael: Thanks, but I’m really not. I’m good at recognizing beautiful and interesting things when I see them, but I’m completely unable to dream up such things from my imagination!

    t: Yup, those shots were taken with ISO 1600 I think, hence no squiggles of light, plus this camera’s images are amazingly low on noise. My old camera would have been useless at them too.

    And, um, no, I haven’t noticed anything about those CQ canopy structures. Perhaps contrary to what Michael has said above, you’re the “artistic” one here…

  6. Michelle: What about combined radio-alarm clock?

    Goodness. Can’t go wrong with 243 europes. I’ll definately be getting me one of those.

  7. James: Might be worthwhile having a look now for online deals or deals in shops. The word on the photography forums is that this camera is getting increasingly hard to find as Fuji rolls out new models and dealers put this one on clearance.

    Some people have even contemplated buying a second F31fd as a spare in case something happens to their existing one! They feel this camera hits the sweet spot between megapixel count and sensor size, and that the image quality of future releases will go down. (Most compact camera manufacturers cave into consumer ignorance and increase megapixel count without increasing the tiny size of the camera’s sensor. Fuji hasn’t done so thus far, but people are cynical about it holding out for long.)

  8. Hi M.

    i do like the look of that rice dish, but whats a “lap-cheong”, that and the thought of having to tip my precious pots on their sides to get the required crunchy rice stopped me in my tracks

    off hand do you know of any websites/blogs that specialise in local cooking? (besides your own that is)

  9. Hi Brian,

    lap-cheong is a type of chinese sausage. It’s sweeter tasting than an Irish sausage but it’s a bit rubbery like a Spanish Chorizo. A whole bite can be a bit overpowering so the local cooks tend to slice it into medallions before cooking. It’s very tasty and you’ll find it without any bother at a Chinese Market. Alternatively you could swap with a noraml sausage of cooking chorizo (could be very nice).
    I’m a big fan of claypot rice. I cooked it a few times when I was in the UK and found it a fast and easy dish. I’ll send you on a recipe if you like. You don’t need to be turning anything upside down to get the desired crunch rice affect. It will happen naturally if you use a good caserole or sauspan. Anything made of thick good material which will conduct the heat up the sides.

  10. Michelle,
    I think you have a very artistic eye (even though you disagree) because you saw the green, red and purple (in your last three photographs) in a way very few people can. The colour themes came across so beautifully it’s almost professional! Keep up with the brilliant photography.

  11. well, having tested out the camera yesterday i can say i am very very happy with the purchase – got some great footage involving people splashing about in a swimming pool.

    I was also wondering what lap cheong was so thanks Alec! Am going to try and make claypot rice now in the future.

    And Michelle – big up the suede reference. my boyfriend said they are apparently reforming, but i think he might be lying.

  12. Michael: I didn’t even realize anything about the colours of those photos until you said it, but because it’s a little rude to argue at length with people complimenting you :) , I accept your positive comments gratefully and can only hope to take more photographs which you enjoy looking at. You should also feel free to tell me about photos you don’t like!

    Sharmila: What, re-reforming after their recent reform?!

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